By William Diepenbrock
Baldwin Park – 104 students at Baldwin Park Unified’s two comprehensive high schools are being honored as AP Scholars by the College Board for their stellar success on Advanced Placement (AP) exams.
The exams are the culmination of the College Board’s AP program, that is designed to give high school students the opportunity to take college-level courses. Students who succeed on AP exams show they are ready for the rigors of college, may be allowed to skip some college courses and are more likely to graduate college on time.
AP exams are graded from 1 to 5 points. To be an AP Scholar, a student must earn a minimum score of 3 – the lowest passing grade – on three or more exams. To be an AP Scholar with Honor, a student must average 3.25 with a minimum score of 3 on four or more exams. To be an AP Scholar with Distinction, a student must average 3.5, with a minimum score of 3 on five or more exams.
Of the 104 students honored at Sierra Vista and Baldwin Park high schools, 68 were recognized as AP Scholars, 17 as AP Scholars with Honor, and 19 as AP Scholars with Distinction.
“We are proud of all our students who take on the challenge of these AP classes. These are extraordinarily demanding programs, but they deliver equally rewarding benefits,” said Baldwin Park Unified Superintendent, Dr. Paul Sevillano.
In 2014-15, 1,579 Baldwin Park Unified students took AP exams, including some who took more than ten. Subjects included art history, studio art, English language, European history, U.S. government, U.S. history, calculus, biology, chemistry, physics and Spanish.
Sierra Vista senior, Anel Castellanos, achieved one of the District’s highest average scores, earning three 4s and three 5s on six AP exams. That success earned her the status of AP Scholar with Distinction, the College Board’s second-highest honor.
Castellanos said the AP program helped inspire her passion for science and medicine.
“It helped me pick the career I wanted,” said Castellanos, who is also a forward on the Don’s varsity girls basketball team. “I want to become a biomedical engineer, perhaps specializing in helping create better artificial limbs.”
Castellanos began kindergarten at De Anza Elementary as an English learner. In 2008, after passing exams, she was designated as fluent English proficient. She is a graduate of Sierra Vista Junior High, where she participated in an accelerated math program, passing geometry as an 8th Grader.
Castellanos took her first AP exams as a sophomore, scoring a 5 on AP Calculus AB, and a 4 in AP World History. As a junior, she scored 5s in AP Calculus BC, AP Spanish Language and Culture, and 4s in AP U.S. History and AP English Language.
Sierra Vista High calculus teacher, Daniel G. Toohey, said he could tell in the first two weeks of Castellanos’ sophomore year that she was something special.
“She excels because she shows great attention to detail, a commitment to do her work exactly as I demonstrate it, and a level of maturity that I rarely see from someone her age,” Toohey said.
Castellanos’ perfect grades in AP and regular classes elevated her 4.0 GPA to a weighted GPA of 4.5, matching her 4.5 average on AP exams. This year, she will take AP Biology and AP Computer Science. If she earns at least 4s in those subjects, she will qualify as a National AP Scholar – the College Board’s highest honor.